* Lew’s comments on “The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany” by Guenter Lewy
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 4, 2016
This is a very difficult book to read, both because of the material and also Lewy’s complicated style of writing, which sometimes seems as circuitous as the Catholic pronouncements he is presenting and explaining. Nevertheless, it is a treasure of information.
Lewy’s bottom line conclusion is damning …
Although a few priests and even fewer bishops tried to oppose Hitler and his annihilation of Jews, most did not. The Church as an institution did nothing. The fundamental reason for this was the Church’s centuries-long denunciation and persecution of Jews, which locked its own position and that of German Catholics into an attitude of indifference to the plight of Europe’s Jews.
In the final analysis, Pius XII did not disagree with Hitler that the Jews were a menace to be eliminated. There is no evidence that Pius XII condoned Hitler’s mass murder of Jews, but neither did he say a single word to condemn it. Lewy’s conclusion, and mine, is that this was a total and disgraceful abdication of the Church’s pretension to moral authority.
Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich, who is a character in my new historical novel, appears many times in Lewy’s book, and thus I have gained many opportunities to raise questions in my novel as to what Faulhaber thought as he dealt with his Church’s appropriate role and his own personal dilemma.